The first of four defendants charged in connection with the home invasion that resulted in Independence Police Officer Tom Wagstaff's near-fatal injury is scheduled to go on trial next week.
Joseph Wyatt, 29, faces the most charges of any of the four defendants – robbery, attempted robber, burglary, kidnapping, assault of a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, tampering with a motor vehicle and two counts of armed criminal action. His jury trial, with Circuit Judge Jack Grate presiding, is scheduled to begin Monday morning.
Ronar Santiago-Torres, 29, faces the same charges as Wyatt minus the tampering, attempted robbery and one of armed criminal action charges. His trial is scheduled for March 11, 2019
James McChan, 58, and Donald Nussbaum, 53, each are charged with robbery, burglary, kidnapping and armed criminal action. Their trials are scheduled for Feb. 11 and July 15 next year, respectively. Nussbaum's trial also had been scheduled to begin Monday. All four defendants are in jail on cash bonds of $500,000.
McChan and Nussbaum allegedly drove the other two defendants to the Independence neighborhood on Delaware Street between 35th and 39th streets, where they forced their way into the home of Don Fowler, burglarized the house and tied up Fowler. When Wyatt and Santiago-Torres heard officers arrive outside, they drove Fowler's SUV through the garage door and during the ensuing gunfire a freak bullet ricochet hit Wagstaff in the head.
Nussbaum is the son of the burglary victim's friend who had seen the home invasion via video feed and called police, according to court documents. He told police he and McChan had driven Wyatt and Santiago-Torres to the area knowing they planned to rob someone and obtain a safe combination. He said he specifically told them not to rob the victim's house, knowing it had surveillance.
The injured officer underwent life-saving surgery after he was rushed from the scene, then was transferred a couple weeks later to one and then a second rehabilitation facility in Nebraska before coming home to much fanfare in December 2017.
Wagstaff officially retired in October and has continued his rehabilitation.
JAMES COMBS: Another trial scheduled to begin Monday in Grate's courtroom, that of 39-year-old James Combs, likely will be rescheduled at the defense's request, according to a spokesperson for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. The former Independence police officer was charged more than two years ago with several counts of statutory rape and statutory sodomy. He immediately posted his $75,000 cash bond.
COURTNEY HACKEY: Hackney, 34, is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly beating Holly Barnett to death in Barnett's Walnut Street home in May 2017, and her trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 17.